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Originally published December 29, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 29, 2005 at 4:16 PM

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Mariners

M's step up their offers to Boston

According to multiple sources, the Seattle Mariners have increased efforts to build up pitching depth at or near the major-league level...

Seattle Times staff reporter

According to multiple sources, the Seattle Mariners have increased efforts to build up pitching depth at or near the major-league level.

An East Coast source said the Mariners are offering pitcher Gil Meche as well as center fielder Jeremy Reed, in an effort to obtain one of Boston's prized pitching prospects, Jon Lester (a Puyallup native) or Jonathan Papelbon, in a trade.

Boston began the talks when it became apparent it would lose center fielder Johnny Damon. In its initial inquiry about Reed, Boston was believed to have talked about giving hard-throwing Matt Clement, who will make $19 million over the next two seasons.

Since signing left-hander Jarrod Washburn to a $38 million contract, Seattle has focused on sinker-baller Bronson Arroyo in recent discussions since he made only $1.85 million in 2005 and is arbitration eligible and under club control for three more years.

"It might be tough to get Lester or Papelbon," a National League scout said. "Every team who has talked to the Sox about a deal has asked for one of them."

While the Mariners are said to be more proactive in pushing a trade with Boston, they apparently are down on the Red Sox's dance card.

The Sox, in need of a shortstop as well as a center fielder, are reportedly focused on a multi-player deal with Tampa Bay, trying to land shortstop Julio Lugo and outfielder Joey Gathright.

"Gathright is strictly a defensive guy, real fast but not much with the bat," a scout said. "You can be sure Tampa is trying to get Papelbon or Lester in that deal."

The Sox are also thought to have inquired about obtaining outfielder Coco Crisp from Cleveland, but the Indians are holding off as they try to acquire an outfielder to make Crisp expendable.

Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or bfinnigan@seattletimes.com

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